Mary Ann Barr
Progress is being made! Soon more different information will be posted on this page. Check back to see what has been added or changed.
One change to note is the picture being featured which is Danby Town Hall in the late 19th cen. or early 20th cen.. Can you find all the changes that have occured in the scene?
Though the Historian's annual report is kind of dry reading it might have some information of interest so it will be posted here. This is the report for 2019. A PDF of the report is below.
Town of Danby
Historian Report for 2019 By Mary
Ann Barr – Town Historian
Meetings. As Town
Historian I have attended all the Municipal Historians of Tompkins County
(MHTC) meetings. They meet once a month
with the exception of summer months and holidays. I was asked to be note taker and have done
the MHTC minutes all this year as well as part of last year.
The Danby Community Council promotes cultural events and I
met with them early in the year to learn more about their activities and see
where Historian activities and DCC activities might coordinate.
Requests. I have
received four or five requests via e-mail throughout the year for information
on genealogy, cemetery locations and history of one or two houses in town.
The Danby Area News – our local town newsletter comes out once a month and an
article by me appeared in six issues.
Besides the articles a “Help Wanted” ad ran in which I asked for and assistant
or deputy town historian. One result of
that ad was response from two teenagers who signed up to help organize the
Historian files and participate in any other way they can. Together we accomplished the filing of all
newspaper clippings that have accumulated over the years.
year saw the installation of a permanent display of a clock acquisitioned a
couple of years ago. The clock was
restored then a custom cabinet built and hung, with the clock safely inside, in
the main meeting room in Town Hall.
This year a couple of other items were donated and
accessioned including a plow that is either a hand, or a horse drawn plow that
was found on a Danby property.
Since I am an artist it was decided I should document all
the big barns in Danby with drawn “portraits” of each (graphite on paper). This was begun in the fall and so far five
drawings have been completed. Each
drawing is 7”x10” with the idea of making a portfolio of all the drawings when
There is a designated display case and bulletin board
exclusively for Town Historian’s use in the main meeting room of Town Hall that
was completed at the beginning of this year.
I change out the displays three or four time a year and post monthly
information on the bulletin board.
Going forward. It is my aim to curate and display Danby
artifacts in an established space for the purpose as well as establish a
permanent space for proper storage and archiving of Danby’s history. (So far the space is about the same as the
past couple of years in which I have used shared space in one of Town Hall
offices.) I also need to have a
deputy/assistant Town Historian as mentioned earlier.
Time. My time
spent in Town Historian endeavors averages two to three hours a week or a total
of about 130 hours for the year though I do not keep a time sheet. I just do what I can when I can.
Mary Ann Barr
Brief Danby History
Danby is a rural town spread out among the highlands south of Cayuga Lake. The drainage divide between waters flowing north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and waters flowing south to Chesapeake Bay passes through Danby. Buttermilk Creek runs north through the center of the town on its way to the gorge and falls in Buttermilk Falls State Park. Cayuga Inlet runs north through the western part of the town on its way to Cayuga Lake.
Throughout its history Danby has been chiefly agricultural. The northern area of the town was first settled in 1795 by two families from Kingston, NY, named Yaple and Dumond who had lost their claim to land in Ithaca. Two years later, Dr. Lewis Beers from Connecticut formed another settlement in South Danby. In 1811 Prince de Plessis, an African American who gained his freedom by Revolutionary War service, settled here with his wife, Lement, and four grown children. Danby was originally part of the Watkins and Flint land purchase and incorporated as a town by an act of the New York State Legislature on February 22, 1811. Danby was in Tioga County until 1822 when it was transferred to Tompkins County. The Ithaca-Owego Turnpike was a toll road completed in 1810 created an important transportation link between Cayuga Lake and the Susquehanna River, opened the region to commerce. It became a state highway in 1841 and remains so today as Route 96B.
During the early 20th century, Danby developed a significant Finnish population as Finnish people left the lumber and mining camps of Michigan and Minnesota. Today the town has approximately 3,500 people spread across 53 square miles and clustered in two hamlet communities- Danby and West Danby.